March 30th-April 6th 2013
30.03.2013 - 06.04.2013
So here is my latest entry for my Easter trip to Prague, solo for one week. I stayed at Prague Square Hostel which was very nice, clean and comfortable. Very centrally located, situated one minute away from Old Town Square (Staromestke Namesti). Weather throughout the trip was generally mild, cold if you spent enough time outside in one place and the odd bit of sunshine, but no rain which was lucky. I also did a couple of day trips from Prague including: Kutna Hora and Cesky Krumlov, both of which you can read in their individual posts below. The report is presented in the original day-by-day format I posted on TripAdvisor.
Day 1: Saturday 30th March 2013:
So I arrived in Prague at 1015am from Heathrow, having spent the night sat in Terminal 3 due to the early morning flight.
I had booked a transfer from the airport to my hostel on Melantrichova via Prague Airport shuttle who were great, on time, great value for money and very friendly.
I dropped my cases of at the hostel and headed straight for Old Town Square, less than a minutes walk away. I strolled around the Easter markets and bought a hotdog which was great, very different to English sausage. I then positioned myself at the Astronomical Clock, (one of the main things to see in Prague), ready for it to strike 12pm. It wasn't spectacular but I wasn't expecting it to be, it is a very beautiful landmark and very important to Prague as a city.
I then walked down Melantrichova and onto Rytirska where I began my statue walk with a gold, footless man sitting on a bench outside a hotel, then continuing down to a Theatre type building was a strange figure shrouded in a cape, on closer inspection you realise the cape is empty and full of darkness, it was a type of memorial to Don Giovanni I think. I then carried on to Wenceslas Square walking down to the statue there, which was King Wenceslas upon his horse a symbol of the Czech Republic as a whole. I then took one of the streets that lead off Wenceslas Square to the Lucerna shopping centre to see King Wenceslas on his dead horse, this one was quite spectacular as it was larger than expected. After that I walked down the same road stopping for lunch at a medieval style restaurant called U Ceskych Panu, I had chilli goulash in bread, although the goulash was very nice I didn't like the bread but the restaurant itself was very nice, quiet and peaceful. I then cut through Charles Square onto Resslova and visited the Cyril and Methodius church where the paratroopers of operation Anthropoid died, it was very informative and very moving, I highly recommend this to anybody interested in history. The Czech Parachutists came up with a plan to assassinate a Nazi named Reinhard Heydrich, when the Nazis found out they ordered a mass search for the parachutists, they were soon located in hiding at the Church of St Cyril & Methodius, having lived in the crypt out of refuge, the Nazis soon arrived and attempted to flood them out through the window. Each parachutist ended up dying, some taking their own lives.
Afterwards I continued up by the river stopping at the Zibrodli Theatre to see the giant embryo sculpture on the side, a creation by the Czech sculptor; David Cerny, I then walked to Charles Bridge and climbed the tower, lots of steps! But the views were worth it! It also gives you a feeling of Medieval atmosphere as it looks out over the Charles Bridge, the tower itself is also mainly wooden steps and you can see wooden beams and rafter like features also. I then walked across the bridge looking at many of the great statues along it, apparently if you touch or kiss the gold on the statues it is supposed to bring you good luck, wealth and a return trip to Prague. The bridge has a life of it's own, with many vendors and stalls to browse, although many overpriced it gives it a fun atmosphere, even the beggars that position themselves add to the amazing atmosphere of it all. I turned left at the end into Kampa Park stopping to watch an Easter folklore type music show which was good, once in Kampa Park I went to see David Cerny's giant babies, that were positioned crawling on the grass, at first they appear quite cute in a sense but when you see their faces it is a sort of weird technology type grid that gives them a sense of strangeness.
I then walked under Charles Bridge and upto the Narrowest Street In Prague which was quirky and not something you see all the time, it has traffic lights to tell you when the passage is clear, although not worth visiting on it's own if it is going to take you out of the way, I highly recommend seeing it if in the area as it makes a great fun photo opportunity. I got some photos and then walked up the road to see The Peeing Men which again was very quirky and different, another statue by David Cerny, two men with rotating hips appearing to be 'peeing' on the map of Czech Republic, although quite bizarre, it is again something you don't see all too often. I don't think many people know the actual meanings behind Cerny's sculptures and are left to be interpreted by the onlooker.
After this I walked to Letna Park and climbed the hundreds of steps, which were very steep and tiring, upto the Metronome which was actually quite ugly and looked useless, however from a distance for example from the street known as Parizska it can actually look quite peaceful and mysterious in a way. Anyway, I found a perfect spot near the Hanavasky pavillion for taking pictures, magnificent view I could of sat there for hours!
After I walked down the long slope and crossed Cechuv Most Bridge and walked down Parizska, a very expensive street and back into Old Town Square where there was a great performance of children performing Czech folklore on the easter stage, I watched this for around half an hour before going to find the last sculpture on my walk of Sigmund Freud hanging in the street, it is literally a statue hanging one handed of a pole into the middle of the street, again bizarre but strangely unique and intriguing. I then got a great little hot chocolate for 40czk which was very nice and warmed me up. By this time it was around 7pm and I was very tired as I had been up all night travelling so returned to my hostel got my room key and unpacked and went to bed.
The hostel is very nice, the rooms spacious with lockable lockers, it is very clean offers free internet and breakfast. The weather today was mild with some sunshine. So far Prague is a very beautiful city and I cannot wait to see more of it!
Day 2: Sunday 31st March 2013:
I awoke and left the hostel around 9:30am this morning and walked up to the IMAGE Theatre on Parizska (just off Old Town Square) to pick up my tickets for the following evening, it was stated that the box office was to open at 10am and if it is one thing I have learned about Prague is that they arn't great time keepers as the woman turned up to open the theatre at 10:20am, after I got my tickets I then walked to the Marionette Theatre on Zatecka to pick up my already purchased tickets, this too stated it was to open at 10am I was here a little after 10:30am and it was closed, I gazed through the window and to my surprise there was a oldish naked man stood in his boxers getting dressed, so I figured maybe he had overslept or something and was going to open the doors, sure enough once dressed he came to the door opened it and locked it behind him, I asked if I could pick my tickets up but he didn't speak English, so I then left it as they were reserved and paid for anyway and headed to the Torture Museum just by Charles Bridge, three floors of artifacts and informative descriptions, eye-opening to what medieval people had to endure i.e suspected witches ect, I found the museum interesting and would reccommend it to anybody interested in the more gruesome side of history.
Afterwards I walked down the river to Psstrossova to the Globe Bookstore which has a wide range of english language books including some really nice souvenir Prague books. I did purchase a book here for less than 200czk.
I then walked to Wenceslas Square via Charles Square to the Vytopna Railway restaurant, my drink arrived via train and the food itself was very nice, I had pork schnitzels in a sort of baked bean/chilli bean sauce with peppers and pepperoni pieces ect.
It was now around 1:30pm and I was due to meet for the World War II In Prague Tour at 2pm by the Powder Tower on Namesti Republiky. The tour was very informative and I chose to do this as I am planning on doing more war history related things here in Prague and wanted to broaden my knowledge of how the world war II affected Prague and the Czech Republic. I came away understanding a lot more, especially things like the Nuremburg Trials, the Czech hero Nicholas Winton ect. Our guide Marek was easy to talk to, answered any questions honestly and overall I really enjoyed it and would reccommend it to anybody wanting to know more about how Prague was affected during world war II. Also Marek pointed things out like the various types of buildings you can find within seconds of each other which I hadn't really noticed, but this is probably what makes Prague beautiful. Also the tour ended at the top of Parizska with the view of the Metronom, which did look alot better from a distance. The tour finished around 4pm so then I walked down Parizska to Old Town Square and tried Trdelnik, and it was amazing! Very tasty! A sort of contrast between popcorn and pancakes.
I then continued down to Na Prikope and visited the Communism Museum which did give me a better understanding of Communism itself but I found there was too much reading and not enough exhibit type things, I did purchase a book here called A Brief History Of The Czech Lands that looks easy to read.
So after this I wanted to get some dinner and although the Czech cuisine that I have tried already was extremely nice I decided to opt for a McDonalds as I am a fussy eater and fancied something a little closer to home. It was now around 5pm and I went back to the hostel for half an hour or so to drop things off and just have a small rest.
I then walked about 2 seconds up Melantrichova to the Sex Machines Museum which was better than I was expecting as I thought it would be just for fun but it does detail some historic, interesting pieces and also shows a spanish film. This would be fun for hen/stag does, or anybody in Prague looking for something less serious and just plain fun. By this time it was around 7:30pm and so I walked back to the Marionette Museum on Zatecka, this time the man was fully dressed, the theatre was bigger than made out to be on Trip Advisor and I got a front row seat. I admit it is not for opera lovers but more of a comedy showing the marionette art ect, you could see the performees hands and the back drop kept getting jammed but for me this added to the atmosphere as it was all really old. The marionette of Mozart was really good and really funny. I really enjoyed it and it was a good laugh so I would recommend visiting here too. A very cultural and traditional show for Eastern Europe.
I then went back to the hostel and had a hot shower before bed as I had an early morning the next day.
Day 3: Monday 1st April 2013:
I got up early and left for the Old Town Square ready for 9am for an organised tour with Martin Tour to Terezin. The coach was comfortable and as we drove out of Prague the english guide pointed out things of interest and told us some interesting facts like for example Skoda translates into 'what a pity' and names of Prague districts translate into names from the medieval times as things like 'cut throat area', 'stolen bag area' and 'nice villiage' ect.
Once we arrived at Terezin we had a little free time to get a drink and browse the shop where I bought a book called History Of Terezin for only 60czk. We then met our english guide and started the tour walking through the 'Arbeit Macht Frei' gates where all prisoners would of entered, I have previously visited Sachsenhausen in Germany so sort of knew what to expect however Terezin was different as it is a Austrian fortress and so quite picturesque, you could never of guessed the horror of what happened there. We then walked through an underground passage and up to the execution range which was strangely very peaceful with birds singing and deers prancing around, still extremely sad though. We then walked back to the bus past the graves with stones upon them, nobody knows the true numbers of victims of Terezin, but my heart goes out to all of them. Once back on the bus we took the short ride around the corner to the Big Fortress where most of the Nazis lived in great peace with great gardens, we visited the museum and then went to the art gallery which documents all the art that came out of Terezin including children's art, also propaganda, we also got to see part of the original propaganda film made by the nazis to show that Terezin was a town given to the Jews.
After arriving back in Prague I went to the Gastronomy Museum, which was very interesting and different to museums you normally find, it documents in easy to read information and beautifully detailed exhibits the timeline of food and cooking from Prehistoric times right up to the present, the woman who worked there was very nice, showing me things of interest and showing me around the amazing modern kitchen, I also got to try a sample of a drink called Medovina I think which was amazing and so I bought a bottle to take home, she also gave me a sample of palm cake I think it was called which was also great.
After this I walked around the easter markets and bought some gifts and some more Trdelnik. I wandered through the streets surrounding the left of Old Town Square browsing the souvenir shops ect. I had dinner from one of the stalls in Old Town Square of potato, chicken and cheese pieces which was advertised for 39czk per 100g except they do the portion for you without knowing how much it costs before they hand it you so it turned out for this huge portion they handed me it cost 350czk! And it wasn't even that nice! But after that I sat watching the folk performers on stage with a great hot chocolate before it was time to head to the IMAGE Theatre on Parizska, sadly no photos or videos could be took and they didn't even sell a dvd, as it was the best thing I have ever seen in my life, compared to the reviews on here it was spectacular, how they do it is amazing, I seen Black Box, obviously its all strings and people dressed in black but still the effects are amazing and I would highly recommend this to anybody in Prague, you cannot miss it. I did purchase their booklet which explains some of the history and how its done but I would love to go back stage and see for myself
Walking back to my hostel after the show, I seen Old Town Square lit up in the dark and it was really beautiful and atmospheric with snowflakes whirling in the air but not settling.
The weather so far has been ok, a little cold, snowflakes but not settled snow at least and no rain
Day 4: Tuesday 2nd April 2013:
So this morning I got up extra early and left the hostel around 7:30am and caught the metro to Dejvicka, I was heading to Lidice and small villiage totally destroyed by the nazis due to the assassination of nazi Reinhard Heydrich, the women were sent to concentration camps, the children gassed and the men shot. At the time of it happening no explanation was given, children were ripped from their mothers arms and told they would be reunited within 1 hour however that never happened, it wasn't until the women survivors returned to their home town of Lidice that they found out the true fate of their children, they were gassed in Chelmno. They also returned to what they thought would still be the villiage of Lidice, their home, however it was just open plains with just the stream running through, the nazis had razed it to the ground. A horrific tragedy, and extremely heart breaking. Anyway I followed the directions for the airport bus like what was said to on TripAdvisor and went to the stop a little further up. There were two stops titled Kladno, but I realised not all the Kladno buses stopped in Lidice, asking the drivers they couldn't understand my accent and thought I was talking about the airport so was little help. So after missing one bus and walking back and forth up and down the bus stops a Kladno bus stopped and the driver understood that I meant Lidice. It was around a 30min drive out of Prague, going through various small villiages. You know when you are at Lidice via the bright yellow bus shelter and large white crossroad sign, but the driver had already turned round to tell me I was there. Once of the bus it was obvious where to go, a large pavillion stood in some trees. The memorial is extremely beautiful and truly heart touching. There is also a strange atmosphere, I was completely alone whilst walking around the once was town. There is a beautiful monument to the children of Lidice, 82 I think died without looking at my notes. Carrying on through the fields you come to a large stone which was where the first house of Lidice once stood, further up is then where the church and school was and then the remaining foundations of Horak's farm where all the men were lined up and shot, these foundations are the only proof that anything once stood here. There is then a small stream, and you cross the bridge and walk up the hill to where the old cemetry once stood, yes the nazis destroyed this too, you can also walk around the newer cemetery. From here you can see the new town of Lidice that overlooks where the old town used to be. It is unimaginable, words cannot even begin to describe the horror and brutality. I then walked back up the left side through the flower garden, eventhough there were no flowers this time of year, I then went to the museum where first you get shown a documentary. In the museum itself are various photos of the families and children who lived there, which was awful to see, one photo of a couple smiling on a boat was taken just 3 days before the horror happened. There is also a small café type venue on the site offering really cheap warm food such as burgers, chips, jacket potatoes ect and other things like crisps and drinks. So after Lidice which I really recommend visiting although it does bring tears to your eyes, it is very different from concentration camps, I headed back to Prague.
Once back in Prague I went to the Ghost Museum which I was expecting a lot more of, I am fascinated with ghosts and the paranormal and although I did expect it too be slightly fake, it was worse, it was just masses of reading depicting legends of water fairies and things like that, downstairs there is a fake sort of ghost walk which I suppose would be fun for kids, I spent around 10 minutes in this place before realising I didn't want to spend no more time here and so walked down to Petrinske Sady, stopping at Hunters pet shop to get my dog a present. Once at Petrinske Sady I caught the Funicular up to the top of the hill, I do not know how people manage to walk up there it is unimaginably steep! So once at the top I walked to Petrin Hill Tower and climbed the hundreds of steps to the top, it's all open aired so it gets pretty scary haha! The views were incredible though! So after this I took the long steep walk down to the bottom and had a look at the communism memorial before getting the tram to Narodni where I stopped at Cafe Louvre and ordered the famous hot chocolate which I can say is amazing, really thick and a real chocolate taste! I also had a large chocolate cake which was delicious but got quite sickly with the hot chocolate aswell! I really recommend this place!
So after this I walked back to my hostel, stopping at Pylones on the way, a top of the range, great quality novelty shop, and it was amazing! I bought my mum and brother a present and also got myself something too, just alot of fun really! So I then dropped things of at my hostel before getting a pizza and eating it in Old Town Square, around 5:45pm I walked down Tynska to McGees ticket office ready for the Prague Castle After Dark Ghost Tour, which lasted 3 hours long. It was great, real historic stories of Prague and it's people and also some mystical legends, it makes you realise that when you are walking down a street in Prague that some things you walk by and make nothing of actually have a deeper story to them, very interesting, also Prague Castle in the moonlight is amazingly beautiful and atmospheric. Our tour guide spoke very good english and was easy to talk to, answered any questions and was just generally great! So again I would recommend this!
After the tour around 9pm I walked back to the hostel, I am on the top floor of the hostel and for some reason they turn the lifts of at certain points in the day meaning you have to walk four flights of stairs! And the lights in the corridor was off this evening making it difficult for me to get my key in the door so I turned the light on, and the generator which was right behind me made a loud bang and a flash of light came from the inside before the lights actually came on! Pretty scary.